This essay explores the unconventional use of weather tropes in Victorian sensation fiction. Particular attention is paid to the unwonted representation of the summer weather in novels by Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Ellen Wood, which challenge established modes and affects. Instead of evoking freedom, individual growth and positive relationships (such as love or friendship), the summer scenes drawn in these novels are incongruously associated with adulterous and criminal events which reach their climax in the quietest moments of the season, thereby producing effects of cultural disorientation. Instead of being rendered through winter metaphors, fear, violence and emotional desolation are here conveyed in scenes dominated by warmth and pleasant breezes which would traditionally inspire opposite feelings and passions. This unusual use of weather symbolism confirms the cultural transgressiveness of the so-called “sensation school”, which was fiercely criticized by orthodox thinkers for its subtle challenge of dominant models and values.

"On a Bright Summer’s Day”: Unconventional Clima(c)tic Scenes in Victorian Sensation Fiction

COSTANTINI, Mariaconcetta
2020

Abstract

This essay explores the unconventional use of weather tropes in Victorian sensation fiction. Particular attention is paid to the unwonted representation of the summer weather in novels by Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Ellen Wood, which challenge established modes and affects. Instead of evoking freedom, individual growth and positive relationships (such as love or friendship), the summer scenes drawn in these novels are incongruously associated with adulterous and criminal events which reach their climax in the quietest moments of the season, thereby producing effects of cultural disorientation. Instead of being rendered through winter metaphors, fear, violence and emotional desolation are here conveyed in scenes dominated by warmth and pleasant breezes which would traditionally inspire opposite feelings and passions. This unusual use of weather symbolism confirms the cultural transgressiveness of the so-called “sensation school”, which was fiercely criticized by orthodox thinkers for its subtle challenge of dominant models and values.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/731925
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